Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.


A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he's certain they do not exist in modern times--but from his life in the late 1800s. 

After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow's life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he'd been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis's wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can't be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century. 

A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future. 

The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice…


The quest for one’s identity plays a huge part in the novel. For Wyatt, who has amnesia, the struggle is remembering who he was. Which of the other characters are wrestling with who they are as well? Who succeeds in self-discovery by the end?

Wyatt begins the book as a hero, but slowly morphs into the villain. What are the instances where the reader begins to change their outlook? Do you still root for him, even as he inevitably lets the reader down? What does it mean for the main character to be an “anti-hero?”

The Ancestor begins and ends with a character trapped in ice. The idea of its characters in a stasis: Travis, Callie, Stu, Aylen, permeates through the novel. What are examples of this stasis throughout? Are any of them successful at breaking free?